The January transfer window is nearly upon us, and that means speculation is beginning to mount ahead of what will be a busy month, given the tight nature of the Premier League table after the first third of the campaign.
Among those who will surely be looking for new recruits are Arsenal. The Gunners lie top of the league at present, but appear set to consolidate that status with big moves in the window.
Top priority, for now, is to secure a high-level backup option to Olivier Giroud, with the Gunners hoping to fight on multiple fronts in the new year.
With Nicklas Bendtner having consistently underwhelmed, an alternative is needed and, per the Express' James Dickenson, Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov has emerged as a surprise candidate to fill that position.
Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen insisted after the game that the striker was going nowhere, with Sky Sports reporting him as saying:
I've not seen or heard what he's said, but if anyone knows Dimitar it's me. Look at that performance tonight and tell me he doesn't want to play for this club. If he continues playing at that level he's one of the three best players in the league.
The Bulgarian has been in poor form this season, scoring just once and adding one assist in 12 league games, per WhoScored.com.
Berbatov was brilliant last night. We will need him to stay and keep performing to stay up. Kaca was like his old self. Kasami worked hard..— Mike Forrest (@MikeForrest10) December 5, 2013
His lack of goals, as well as the poor showings of those around him, have led to Fulham sinking into the Premier League relegation zone.
However, Meulensteen is correct. When on form, Berbatov can be a unique player capable of playing at the very highest level, and that will be something Arsene Wenger is no doubt fully aware of.
Berbatov scored 15 league goals for a mediocre Fulham side last season, and in 2010-11 was among the division's top scorers with 20 in 32 games for Manchester United.
While his preference for a slow build-up ensured he never quite suited Old Trafford, he remained a remarkably effective player when given the chance to impress.
Were he to join Arsenal, he would once more have to accept that he would not be an automatic first choice. However, it is easy to imagine him settling in easily alongside similarly precocious talents in Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil in the Gunners' forward line.
Berbatov's willingness to improvise and rely on his instincts are qualities that Wenger's side encourage in their play, while his strength and ability to hold the ball up with his back to goal are also prerequisites of the role.
In that context he would provide suitable cover for Giroud while also offering an imaginative and unpredictable alternative if Arsenal need to unlock a defence.
With his contract set to expire in the summer, per ESPN, Arsenal may be able to pick up the Bulgarian as a cheap short-term attacking option.
As shown just last season, he can still be an effective attacking weapon in the Premier League and represents a potential high-class addition to any side. For Wenger, he is a low-risk gamble that could well prove worth the investment.